Getting the right things done. Sounds simple — doesn’t it? If I were to ask you, “Do you get all the things done that you need to do?,” would you say “Yes,” “No” or “Who does”?
The old adage is true: Give work to a busy person. It’s because busy people — at least the productive ones — know how to get things done.
American workers are considered the most productive in the world. But, almost everyone can get more done by working harder and working smarter. Put in more hours, use technology to squeeze more out of your time, communicate more clearly with team members…you know the drill.
The real trick — for both managers and front-line workers — is to get the right things done. This is what separates the wheat from the chaff. The key is to have a list of priorities — the things that you and your team have decided are absolutely the most important things you need to do — and then focus on them.
There’s an enormous economic and competitive upside to getting the right things done: growth in sales and profits, new opportunities for you and your entire team and that look of respect you get from co-workers that’s almost as good as cashing your end-of-year bonus check. There’s also a huge downside if you don’t get the right things done. Can you think of a time when, despite all good intentions, you didn’t do something you planned to do? Maybe it was a new product launch, a new customer loyalty program or perhaps the development of new plans to engage more employees. What was the cost in terms of lost customers, lost market share or employee turnover?
Here are six tips to boost your productivity and get more of the right things done.
1 Treat every day like it’s the day before you go on vacation. You know, that day when you get to work early, you have a list of what you need to do before you leave and you’re decisive about everything you touch. You have an approach that keeps meetings brief, emails short and phone conversations to the point.
2 If you think something is going to take an hour, give yourself forty minutes. By shrinking your mental deadlines, you work faster and with greater focus.
3 Don’t multi-task when working on anything really important. Jumping in and out of a major topic actually slows you down. Those half-distracted “quick kills” have the effect of lowering your IQ to the point where if you were driving, you’d be considered an impaired driver. Not that you’d ever have an important conference call while driving through the mountains of Tennessee as “The Little Mermaid” on DVD blares in the backseat.
4 Schedule time every week on your calendar for quiet, concentrated “power time” when you only work on your most important activities. Close your door, put your phone on “do not disturb” and close down your email. Unless someone is bleeding or not breathing, don’t let anything interrupt.
5 Write a “stop doing” list. A “to do” list is easy — you just keep adding to it. The more you have on it, the more important you may feel. A “stop doing” is more difficult because you have to give up some things, but in the end, you’ll get more of the right work done. Remember, not doing something is doing something.
6 Try new ways of doing things. Ask yourself, “If I didn’t do it the way I’ve always done it, how else could I do it?” Don’t let fear of making mistakes stop you. Thomas Edison may have had over 10,000 failures, but his 1,100 patents more than made up for them. Remember, it’s okay to make mistakes as long as you learn from them; that way, they get you closer to success.
Getting the right things done is all about YOU! Productivity is a mindset. Once you commit yourself to becoming more productive — and stop letting daily distractions get in the way — you’ll see immediate gains. I could go on, but I gotta run…we both have a lot to do.